Approaching Lavender

I adore every shade of purple, from lavender to plum. When I was nine and we moved to New Jersey, my mother indulged my love for purple by finding beautiful violet-flowered wallpaper for my new bedroom and creating a Barbie house to match. She painted an accent wall for my room a medium violet and it was fab. I don’t have photos unfortunately; we weren’t into snapping pics of everything so much back in those days, except on vacations. It’s too bad about no pics of the Barbie house especially, since that truly was a masterpiece with different rooms and a guest cottage for cousin Skipper.

I’ve always wanted to love the scent of lavender, but sadly I hate it. I do love this song by Gordon Lightfoot however.

The Daily Prompt: Purple

Gatsby & Greenery

G&G

The Daily Post Photo Challenge:
It IS Easy Being Green!

Flip-Flops

My secretary left me for my husband, but still I wore my charcoal Theory suit and Gucci pumps to work Monday because it’s important to keep an image going.

“Sorry about Laura,” Hobson said. “I need a copy of the Canary contract.”

I looked for it in between checking the fourth quarter projections and trying to convince my mother to go over to my house and change all the locks. My feet hurt, so I took off the Guccis and shoved them in a drawer. Laura wasn’t answering her phone. They were probably lounging around in bed all day, assuming I’d support them. It’s true I’m almost too busy to bother hiring a divorce lawyer. Not to mention a tax accountant.

“Maybe I could write them off,” I said to Hobson.

“That’s funny,” he replied with a tight smile. “Have you found the contract yet?”

So, at lunchtime I drove over to Laura’s apartment. It was right at the beach, of course. My husband likes to surf. Second floor. I clomped up the stairs in my Guccis and snagged my stockings on the railing. The air smelled of coconut oil and rotting vegetables. Laura opened the door. She wore a lime green camisole, pink shorts, and turquoise flip-flops with sequins on the straps.

“Oh,” she said. “He isn’t here.”

“No, no,” I reassured her. “I want you. I mean, I need you to tell me where you put the Canary files. Please.”

I didn’t like to beg, but this was business.

Her head tipped back as it does when she’s riffling through the card file in her brain. Laura has a photographic memory, which is one of the reasons she was such a great secretary. I knew then I’d miss her more than I’d miss him. Her sequined feet winked up at me.

“In storage cage twelve,” she said. “Unlabeled. Sorry.” She glanced away.

“It’s okay,” I told her. It really was. I didn’t have time for a husband. Tomorrow I’d hire a new secretary to type up the labels. Everything would be fine.

I clomped back down the steps to my Audi. As I beeped open the door with my electronic key, a seagull pooped on my four hundred dollar shoes.

“That’s when,” I say. “That’s the moment I decided to dump the partnership and open my nude portrait studio.” I wiggle my toes in my ten dollar flip-flops. They’re tan and have little seashells glued to the straps. I swirl my brush around the peach paint and gaze at my subject.

“You do seem much less stressed,” Hobson says as he reaches for the grapes.

“Perfect,” I say. “Stay just like that.”

[from Burnt Offerings]

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Label

Anatomy of an Apology

I wish I had pulled the wings
Off your poisoned apology
When it came fluttering in
So unexpectedly,
Soft as butter in a boiled sun.
But it was so lovely,
Spun in delicate glory,
With colorful backstory;
I held out my hands,
Everything forgiven.

Apologies from men
Have been rare as Monarchs,
And I breathed in that golden dust
From your I’m sorry like a drug,
More potent than the heady bliss
Of your up against the brick wall kiss.
As bruised clouds slid past
The last light of that languorous day,
I’m sorry, I’m sorry
You whispered in sticky magnificence,
Sucking me into a sugar net seduction
I should have shot down.

I wish I had heard how hollow
Your sham regrets rang,
How they held no tomorrow,
Instead of feeling hypnotized
By the Blue Morpho
Of your eyes.
But it had been so long…
And you’re a charismatic guy;
That apology trapped me tight
In the crystal jar of your lies.

But only once:
When the glass breaks,
It shatters.
No molten gold
Can hold
Your broken soul together.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Unexpected

Graveyard Shift

Harold and I played Hangman whenever the computer went down. We’d form our linear skeletons on the backs of garbage printouts, sometimes adding fingers and toes to make the game last longer. When the analysts arrived, rumpled and muttering, we’d keep on playing as they typed in secret codes and yawned. We pretended not to listen as they devised new evacuation plans. Soon they’d tramp upstairs, arguing about the Redskins, and we’d drink pale, watery chocolate in that cool, grey-tiled basement. If they didn’t bring the system up, we’d play all night, plucking colorful, exotic words from the marshy reaches of our minds. Once, Harold kissed me by the printer and his warm breath swept my lips like feathers. As I moved away, the empty screens glowed like dark emeralds.

[originally written in 1989]

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Screen

Swimming Alone on an Empty Stomach

I’ve been swimming alone
For a long time…
The water
First too cold
Now sublime;
I slide,
I glide
Through the darkness
Blind.
My wounds smoothed over
Are all on the inside–
When I bump up against you
All buttery sleekness
There’s nothing to hold onto,
No pain,
No weakness.
Two circling seekers
Float on unmolested,
Swallowed by the vastness,
No point of connection.
Bubbles of potential
More or less indifferent,
While stars shine beyond
This sea of solipsis.

[from Depth Perception]

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Smooth

The Abyssinian

Watching Tasha watching me:
Her ears scoop up every sound
Like twin satellite dishes.
Whiskers twich, and she waits
On the knife-edge of sensation.
Round eyes glow
Like topaz stones;
I suspect she knows
The secrets of the universe.

But I don’t think Tasha ponders
Modern problems
Or ancient philosophy.
She breathes cat-perfect morality:
Instincts equal ethics.
Body and soul are one;
Judgments dance in flawless rhythm.
She knows how high she can jump,
And which window gets the strongest sun.

[originally written 12/07/1988]

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Instinct

The Search for Nuance

The search for nuance
Came up nil–
Not a single folder spilled
Out a poem or post
In all these years,
Not even a ghost;
No evidence I ever
Used a subtle, filmy
Delicate negligee
Of a word,
A mysterious trail of lace,
Leaving a coy, flirtatious trace,
Instead of my usual
Bludgeons of bluntness.

But it is this, dammit, I scream:
Can’t you see?
My shrieks echo ’round the mountain,
But Narcissus long ago
Fell into the stream,
And everyone else has
Packed up their picnics
And gone home…
It looks like rain.

It’s time to stop yelling, Paula;
Whisper your pain
To the slowly swirling clouds.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Nuance

The Story of The Thing

Every year, for many years, I have had a standing order for The Thing via Mega Corp. This year was no different, except that I found The Thing for one-third the price on Amazon. Since Mega Corp was late in sending The Thing anyway, I called them and said hey I’m gonna order The Thing on Amazon from now on, so don’t send it, ‘k?  I got Mega Product Support on the phone, who said I needed to email Mega Customer Service to deal with this, so I did that.

Mega Customer Service said nope, sorry. See, unless you notify us by such and such a date, we must ship out The Thing. We can’t communicate with Mega Shipping after that date. But what we can do is this… send us the Amazon info, to prove to us you really did find it for less, yada yada, and we’ll send you a return label. When you receive The Thing, just pop it back in the mail and we will pay for return shipping.

I sent Mega Customer Service the Amazon info and waited for my shipping label.

The Thing arrived from Mega Corp.

I waited for the return shipping label. And I waited. And I waited. Weeks of waiting.

(I hadn’t ordered The Thing from Amazon yet.)

I emailed Mega Customer Service to remind them about the shipping label. No reply.

In the meantime, Mega Billing sent me an invoice for The Thing.

I called Mega Product Support to discuss the shipping label I was supposed to receive from Mega Customer Service. They said they’d send it. More weeks wobbled on.

Mega Billing sent another invoice.

I sent another email to nudge Mega Customer Service and told them I spoke to Mega Product Support. I received an apology and a promise that the shipping label would be sent immediately. Nope.

Mega Billing sent a delinquent notice.

This made me mad, so I called Mega Product Support again to express my outrage and to complain that Mega Customer Service never sent my shipping label. How could I return The Thing if I didn’t have the shipping label? The Thing was sitting right here on my desk! I’d love to return The Thing, but I could not! At this point, Mega Product Support said I should simply keep The Thing for no charge and my account would be fully credited. They were very sorry I had to wait so long yada yada.

OK, then. I finally opened The Thing and did what one does with such things that are The Thing. I tossed last year’s version in the trash. I tried to put the whole episode out of my mind and move on.

Closure!

But…

Today I received a final notice from Mega Billing saying they were cutting off my credit and were no longer going to ship The Thing to me ever again.

scream

Muscle Memory

Reality recedes
To stardust dreams
And spherical music;
I am more alive when asleep
At our midnight rendezvous.

Your embrace
Sedates me,
Lulls me like
Opium poppies…
An all-consuming peace.

In these drunken moments,
I could love you forever
Without hesitation
Or contemplation,
But alas my bottle is empty now.

Please overwhelm me
With the logical twists
Of your hot pretzel argument,
Until I surrender
To your superior salty wrongness.

If the heart is just a muscle
And love a learned habit,
Then why is it so hard
To break this last recurring
Muscle memory?

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Hesitate